The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke & John


November 2020



Jonathan Norton

November 23-27 | Luke 12-16


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Dr. Kevin Calhoun

November 30 | Luke 17


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Dr. Kevin Calhoun

December 1-4 | Luke 18-21


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Dr. Craig Bowers

December 7-11 | Luke 22-24

John 1-2


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Rev. JT Overby

December 14-18| John 3-7


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Jonathan Norton

December 21-25 | John 8-12


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Dr. Kevin Calhoun

December 28-31 | John 13-16


 


  • November 25, 2020


    by Jonathan Norton


    Read Luke 14

     

    Most of us are familiar with the Great Commission for Christians, given to us in Matthew 28:20: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations”. In Luke 14:25-33, we read about the cost of being a disciple of Jesus Christ. We see that Jesus makes it clear that when it comes to personal discipleship, He is more interested in quality than quantity. 

     

    In verse 25, we come to understand that the goal of Jesus was not to attract big crowds, but to make true disciples. He knew that most of those in the crowd were more interested in miracles, the feeding of the hungry or overthrowing Rome, more so than their own spiritual wellbeing. Jesus never changed or adapted His message to tickle the ears of the large crowds. He always declared the truth of God’s Word and reminded those listening what it meant to follow Him.

     

    Then in verses 28-33, we see that only those willing to carefully assess the cost and invest all they had in His Kingdom were worthy to be His disciple. Jesus was not just talking about our material possessions; He was speaking of absolute surrender to His Lordship. As a disciple, we are not allowed to retain any special privileges or make any demands of God. We cannot hold on to any cherished worldly treasures or cling to our secret self-indulgences. Our commitment to Him must be without reservation.    

     

    A “disciple” is a life-long learner. It is a person who attaches themselves to a teacher to learn a trade or subject. The word “disciple” was the common name for followers of Jesus and is used 264 times in the Gospels and the book of Acts. So, being a disciple of Jesus is obviously important. We must understand that to “Go make disciples of all nations”, we must first become a disciple ourselves. Are you a true and faithful  disciple of Jesus today?    


  • November 26, 2020


    by Jonathan Norton


    Read Luke 15

     

    If this chapter had a title, I think it would be the “The Joy of Salvation”. Three words really sum up this chapter: Lost, Found and Rejoice. It is important to note that Jesus attracted sinners while the religious leaders (Pharisees) alienated them. This causes me to stop and ask what are we, the church, doing today? Lost sinners came to Jesus not because He catered to their lifestyle or compromised His message. They came because He loved and cared for them. He knew their needs and tried to help them rather than criticize them and keep His distance.

     

    When reading and studying this chapter I came across a beautifully written piece from Pastor Charles Swindoll that was a powerful reminder that we were that lost sinner at some point.


    Swindoll says:

    “The sinful nature in humans is not a sickness, it is living in death. It is unashamed and unrepentant evil. We are all born with it. Just because you and I may not have murdered anyone or robbed a bank does not mean we do not have a sinful nature… Like King David, we can lust (2 Samuel 11-12). Like King Solomon, we can pursue a life of vanity and emptiness instead of a life with God (Ecclesiastes). Like Jonah, we can run from God and what He has called us to do (Jonah). Like the Prodigal Son, we can rebel against the Father and waste away our lives… All of us carry the same ugliness inside that is our sinful nature. The question is how could God know the depth of this nature and still forgive us? The answer is His Grace, Love and Mercy”.       

     

    What an incredible reminder of the darkness of our sin nature, but the power of God’s love that prevails! Read Luke 15:10 again.  Jesus says: “I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents”. Wow! What a heavenly picture of when you got saved. Take a minute to dwell on that and give thanks for His powerful Grace, Love and Mercy.         

     


  • November 27, 2020


    by Jonathan Norton


    Read Luke 16


    As we read this chapter, we are reminded that as Christians, we should invest our lives to the needs of others and to the glory of God. Life is a stewardship, and we must be faithful, whether God “gives us much or little” (v.10). One day we must give an account to the Lord of what we have done with all He has given to us, so we should listen to what Jesus says in this chapter about the right and wrong use of money.  

     

    A Steward is someone who manages another’s money. He/she does not own that money, but they have the privilege of enjoying it and using it for the profit of the  master. The most important thing about a steward is that they serve the master faithfully (1 Corinthians 4:2). Christian stewardship goes beyond paying God our tithe of our income and then using what is left as we please. True stewardship means that we thank God for all we have (Deuteronomy 8:11-18), and we use all of it as He     directs. God should control what we do with the 90 percent as well. And what we do with all our money should Honor and Glorify Him.

     

    It has been said that “Money makes a great Servant, but a Terrible Master”.  If God is our Master, then money will be our servant, and we will use our resources to the glory and will of God. May we learn today not to be like the Pharisees in verses 14-31 where God was not their Master, and they became the servants of money. For with their lips, they honored the Lord, but with their money they lived like the world. 

     

    After reading this, what changes in your finances might the Holy Spirit be laying on your heart? 
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  • November 30, 2020


    by Kevin Calhoun


    Read Luke 17

     

    When I was growing up, my parents taught me many things.  Always be on time, practice good manners, be true to your word, and look people in the eye when you speak to them are a few of the lessons they instilled in me. Another lesson they taught me, and this may be one of the most important, is to always give proper thanks to people. Ingratitude was inexcusable.

     

    In today’s scripture we read about ten lepers who were healed by Jesus, but only one came back to give thanks. It seems inconceivable to me that a person could be healed of a disease as hideous and painful as leprosy and not be grateful. In 1 Thessalonians 5:18 Paul writes, “In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”  Also, Leviticus 3:1-17 and Leviticus 7:11-36 describe offerings designed to remind God’s people to be thankful. 

     

    Gratitude should be connected to every aspect of the believer’s life.  This includes the difficult days as well as the good, no matter what the situation or trial.  There is always a reason to give thanks to God.

     

    Take a moment this morning to read Philippians 4:4-13.  The best way for us to  maintain an attitude of thankfulness is to be content with who we are in Christ, to be content with what God has given us, and to be content with the circumstances in which we live. There is always a place for gratitude.

     

    Application:

    Make a list of blessings God has given you and your family.  
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    Take a moment today to write a Thank You note to someone who has blessed you.
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    Prayer:

    Thank You, Lord, for the gift of life and for the joy I have in Jesus! Amen!

     


  • December 1, 2020

     

    by Kevin Calhoun

     

    Read Luke 18

     

    Yesterday’s devotional focused on the joy of giving thanks. In today’s scripture we are introduced to a blind man named Bartimaeus (vss. 35-43). As Jesus was passing by his way Bartimaeus cried out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me,” (vs. 38). As a result of their conversation, Bartimaeus received his sight. In verse 43 we read, “And immediately he received his sight, and began following Him, glorifying God.” This spirit of thanksgiving is a wonderful pattern for us to follow.

     

    We need to realize we have many reasons to give thanks. I know that everyone faces difficult circumstances, and life is filled with various problems; but think for a moment about the reasons you have to give thanks. Maybe your thanksgiving revolves around your health, or your family, or you church family. The song “Count Your Many Blessings” is a wonderful exercise for us each day. Make a list of the blessings you enjoy, and take a moment to give thanks.

     

    It is also important to realize to whom we should give thanks. Yesterday I mentioned the importance of thanking those who have been kind and gracious to us. Today I want us to realize our ultimate thanksgiving is to God. After receiving his sight, Bartimaeus was heard glorifying God. As a result “when all the people saw it, they gave praise to God,” (vs. 43).  When others saw Bartimaeus giving thanks, they joined in with praise as well. 

     

    Application:

    Make a list of 10 people or blessings in your life. 
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    Pause for a moment and write a prayer of gratitude to God for these blessings. 
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    Prayer:

    Lord, I give You thanks today for Your love and mercy to me.  Make me a channel of blessing to others today!  Amen!

     


  • December 2, 2020

     

    by Kevin Calhoun

     

    Read Luke 19

     

    “And as He was now approaching, near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the miracles they had seen,” (vs. 37).

     

    The people did not wait for Jesus to enter the city. They began to praise Him as He descended from the Mount of Olives. They knew who Jesus was, and they were excited to be in His presence. Therefore, they gave praise with anticipation as Jesus came near. Theirs was expectant praise.

     

    They also gave corporate praise. “The whole multitude of the disciples” joined in the praise. There was not one silent tongue among the disciples that day. Some of them may have had physical needs, some may have had family struggles, and some may have been living in fear. They all struggled with sin the same as we do each day. Yet, on this occasion, they were all heard praising God. If we are children of God, we have reason to sing praise unto our Lord.

     

    It was also joyful praise. They “began to praise God joyfully.” Of all people, Christians have reason to smile, laugh, and shout joyfully to God.  “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands. Serve the Lord with gladness . . .” (Psalm 100:1-2). Everything we do can be done with joy and thanksgiving!

     

    Application:

    Make a list of people who bring joy to your life. 
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    How can you express your gratitude to them today? 
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    Prayer:

    “Praise God from whom all blessings flow; Praise Him, all creatures here below; Praise Him above, ye heavenly host; Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.”

    (“All People That on Earth Do Dwell,” Hymn # 5, Baptist Hymnal, 1991 edition).


     


  • December 3, 2020

     

    by Kevin Calhoun

     

    Read Luke 20

     

    In our reading today we see the religious leaders aggressively begin to trap Jesus. The chapter begins with them questioning the authority of Jesus. Later they try to trap Jesus with a question about paying taxes.  Then the chapter closes with questions about the resurrection of the dead. Each of these occasions is prompted by opposition to Jesus and His teaching. The leaders are jealous of Him, and they feel threatened by His influence upon the people. Verse 20 is especially revealing. “And they watched Him, and sent spies who pretended to be righteous, in order that they might catch Him in some statement, so as to deliver Him up to the rule and the authority of the governor,” (emphasis mine). We can sense the conflict rising.

     

    This is the point of the Parable of the Vine-Growers (Wicked Tenants).  God is pictured as the “owner of the vineyard.” Jesus is the “beloved son.” The Jewish leaders are the wicked “tenants” who killed the son rather than welcome him  Thus, “the scribes and the chief priests tried to lay hands on Him that very hour, and they feared the people; for they understood that He spoke this parable against them,” (vs. 19).

     

    As we consider this chapter today, do we (like the religious leaders) reject Jesus and His authority? Do we try to explain His teachings away so that we feel more comfortable? Or do we welcome Him and seek to follow Him in all ways as our Savior and Lord?

     

    Application:

    What teachings of Jesus do you find difficult to obey? 
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    How do you try to rationalize your behavior when you struggle with these teachings?  ________________________________________________________________

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    Prayer:

    Lord, You are the way, the truth, and the life.  Give me grace to follow You today!  Amen!

     


  • December 4, 2020
                                                                                                         

    by Kevin Calhoun

     

    Read Luke 21


    I have always marveled at the story of the widow’s gift recorded in verses 1-4. It appears Jesus has taken a position near the place of giving to observe those who were presenting their offerings to the Temple treasury. As He watched the crowds, Jesus saw the rich offering gifts from their abundance. In contrast to the rich, Luke mentions one poor widow who put in two copper coins. Notice the praise Jesus gives this lady.

     

    Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all of them; for they all out of their surplus put into the offering; but she out of her poverty put in all that she had to live on,” (vss. 3-4).

     

    The word for poverty means deficiency and is contrasted with the surplus of the rich. While the rich had an overflow remaining, the widow had nothing left. She came to the Temple with a small amount of money but with gratitude in her heart. She left the Temple that day with nothing in her possession but with the joy of having given her all to the Lord. Ray Summers wrote of this event, “Jesus did not encourage her – she walked by faith. He did not reward her – reward she already had.  He did not        commend her – her commendation was a good conscience. . . It was His last act in the Temple.  He went out to do the same thing – to give His absolute all,” (Ray Summers, Commentary on Luke, Word Books, 1972, p. 252). 

     

    Application:

    Describe your attitude when giving to the Lord. 
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    Do you give from abundance or from poverty? 
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    Prayer:

    Lord Jesus, thank You for the gift of Your life. I offer my life to You today!  Amen

     

     


  • December 7, 2020

     

    by Craig Bowers

     

    Read Luke 22


    Satan wants to DESTROY us and Jesus wants to DEVELOP us. That’s the point of verses 31-34. Jesus teaches us satan’s strategies. One of his strategies is to do whatever it takes to hinder a growing relationship with Jesus.

     

    Verse 31 teaches that satan is on a leash. He must obtain permission from our Father as to how far he can go. Satan targets leaders. Peter was the leader of the Apostles. He targets leaders in churches, homes, and communities.

     

    Satan begged for and obtained permission to sift Peter like wheat for one reason – he wanted the ugliness of his life to rise to the top. Satan wanted all to see Peter’s failures, insecurity, and lack of loyalty. Satan wanted to be able to then hold this failure over Peter’s head in order to defeat him.

     

    Satan wants to do the same with you. As a child of God, you are a threat to his operation. You are the one God uses to reach others with the Gospel and snatch them as a coal plucked from the fire! He will attack you emotionally and beat you up because of your failures and render you feeble in Kingdom’s work. He will attack your physical health in hopes to make you bitter will ensure that you are counterproductive to the Kingdom’s work. He will use whatever he can to succeed!

     

    Why does the Lord grant permission? The Lord uses the very attack of Satan for a  totally opposite outcome. The Lord uses our trials to qualify us for more effective service. Trials teach us to be more understanding toward others and dependent upon the Lord. Ultimately the Lord will use a sifter experience to turn what could be the death of a testimony into a testimony that parades the grace and love of God!

     

    Peter’s trial wasn’t about Peter. It was about his brothers who also denied the Lord. They needed a leader who would love them instead of scolding them.

     

    What courtyard are you in today? 
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    Will you embrace the grace of God and grow? Will you love others the way God loves you? 
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  • December 8, 2020

     

    by Craig Bowers

     

    Read Luke 23


    Forgiveness may be one of the hardest issues with which we struggle. Jesus said over and over again, “Father, forgive them…” (verse 34). Forgiveness is challenging for several reasons. First, the person may not even acknowledge that they did anything wrong! Second, it may appear that we are saying what they did is ok and it is NOT. Third, we equate forgiveness with trust. They are two separate issues! Fourth, we   believe the cliché, “Forgive and forget.” Nowhere does the Bible command you to forget. Forgive, yes. Forget, no.

     

    So, let’s talk about what happens when you don’t forgive. First, your relationship with God is stunted. Holding a grudge while seeking God’s grace is hypocritical. God will have none of it. Second, your relationships with others is stunted. Unforgiveness fosters a bitter heart. It is impossible to have sweet water flowing from a bitter stream. Third, unforgiveness requires a lot of emotional energy. You will have little emotional energy for those who matter most to you. Fifth, you are the person who is really imprisoned by your unforgiveness.

     

    So, what is the best way to practice the life of Jesus? Forgive others! How? All forgiveness is based on grace. The offender does not deserve your forgiveness. You must exercise grace that flows from the very heart of God.  Second, develop a biblical understanding of forgiveness. Study the Scriptures in this area. Read about Joseph and others who practiced forgiveness. It may take some time and revisiting your forgiveness of them for it to sink into your spirit. Your forgiveness does not justify their wrong. It simply takes you out of the judgment and punishment business.

     

    Jesus died on the cross to pay for your sin so that you could be forgiven. Your salvation is based on His grace. Now, practice the grace He has shown you.

     

    If you have long standing issues of unforgiveness, in addition to the Scripture, I recommend Chuck Lynch’s book, I Should Forgive, But…

     


  • December 9, 2020

     

    by Craig Bowers

     

    Read Luke 24

     

    Were not our hearts burning within us while He was speaking to us on the road, while He was explaining the Scriptures to us?” (verse 34) When the Lord speaks into our lives through His word, our hearts burn! That’s what we need! Hearts on fire from listening to Jesus.

     

    The words of Jesus set our hearts on fire because they touch the untouchable places of our hearts. These two men were hopeless, groping for answers. Their dreams lay in shambles at their feet. They were disillusioned and distraught. They couldn’t figure out what to do next. There was no next. There was only the gloom and doom of the death of hope. No words could make a difference! That is unless the resurrected Christ spoke!

     

    Valleys can be long, very dark, and dangerous. Dreams can be shattered, etc. But the coldness of our hearts can be warmed by the presence of Jesus. His Holy Spirit ministers deeply to our hearts as we lean in and listen to His Word.

     

    I can remember camping with a group of older guys as a kid. They were trying to instigate a fight between my cousin and me. We were deep in the woods and there was no escape. While we sat around the campfire, my 8 year old heart felt hopeless. These guys weren’t my friends. Suddenly, we heard what sounded like a bear coming through the woods. It was my dad. He felt something was wrong that evening and came back for me. As I rode on his back out of the woods, my heart was deeply warmed. My dad rescued me from the terror of that dark night. You may be in the woods right now. It may be very dark. Your heavenly Father knows where you are at and what you are going through. He loves you and He will carry you out of the woods!

     


  • December 10, 2020


    by Craig Bowers


    Read John 1


    Communication can be a tremendous challenge. Especially if it is written. I try to avoid “conversations” via email or text. It is difficult at best to express your tone and posture. Even in person communication can be challenging. All of us understand the dynamic inherent with the use of words. There are subtle nuances and various meanings of words.


    Just the other day I wanted to clarify a date so I said, “Friday week.” My friend laughed and said, that’s right. However, his wife had never heard that expression. She’s not from the south! Even though we may speak the same language, English, that doesn’t mean we speak the same language.


    So, how does the Creator speak to us? If we have a challenging time understanding other humans, how can we possibly understand God? He is so much higher above us intellectually! The great news is that God wants to commune with us. The only way we can commune, have relationship, is to have effective communication. Therefore, God became human. That’s the mind blowing truth of John 1:1. The “Word” became flesh! The Greek word for “word” is “logos.” It means expression, conception or idea. So, God became flesh to reveal Himself to us. Of course He became flesh to go to the cross in order to pay for our sin. In that process, God came down to our level so that we could hear Him, watch Him, and interact with Him.


    In the Old Testament, God gave humanity His written word expressing His holiness, love, and patience. But then the full expression, the living expression of God became flesh. His communication to us is perfect. That’s what Christmas is all about. God communing with us by establishing the Way to Him and His Word to us.



  • December 11, 2020

     

    by Craig Bowers

     

    Read John 2

     

    I was really angry! So angry that I aggravated a condition in my inner ear. Stress causes my ear to blow up with noise. What happened? What was the culprit? My chain saw! I finally had some time on my hand to get some things done that needed to be done. I looked forward to finally marking it off my list. My plans were disrupted when I couldn’t get the chain saw to crank. I pulled on it so many times my shoulder hurt.

     

    I’ve found that most of my anger isn’t over godly, righteous issues. Please don’t misunderstand, I get passionate when I see someone bullied or being taken advantage of. But, if I’m honest, most of the time it has to do with a disruption in MY schedule or MY plan being torpedoed.

     

    Jesus began his public ministry demonstrating righteous indignation against the abuses in the Temple. He ended his public ministry the same way. That sends a clear message. God gets angry! His anger is different from our anger. His anger is rooted in the violation of His holiness. Usually, our anger is rooted in the violation of our personal agenda.

     

    That which makes us angry tells us a great deal about us. After my “episode” with the chain saw, I determined that cranking (or the failure to crank) a chainsaw was not   going to have such a dramatic impact on my life.

     

    I’d like to think that my anger is usually righteous indignation. But it isn’t. Convicting? YES. What lights your fuse? How long will you allow that to happen? What does it say about what is important to you? What doesn’t make you angry that should?

     

    Just for your edification, the problem with the chainsaw was user error! Talk about eating a big, thick slice of humble pie! The problem with most of our anger is user error.

     


  • December 14, 2020

     

    by JT Overby

    Read John 3


    The love and wrath of God are in close proximity in John 3. The Father, in His love for the world, sent the Son, so that anyone who would believe in Him would have eternal life. The problem we see with Nicodemus is one we share as well, that Jesus and then John speak of-- we love works of evil. In looking at the diamond of God's love, it is set against the backdrop of our own sinfulness and unworthiness to be loved. Paul would speak of our heart's desires in Romans 3 when he says that we don't do good and don't desire God. How great the love of Jesus looks when seen against the darkness of our own sin.


    It sounds too good to be true, but it is the deepest reality. God is merciful, gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love (Exodus 34:6). This great love and mercy are made manifest in the person and work of Jesus. He is gracious to those who don't believe. He is patient with the hard-hearted. He is gentle with the broken and needy. What good news for us! How is this possible? Does God just ignore our sin?


    On the cross we see the close proximity of the love and wrath of God. Jesus absorbs the full wrath of God that we deserve so that we can hear, "no condemnation," and so that we can know the love of the Father. The Spirit of God washes us, cleanses us, and pours that love into our hearts (Romans 5:5).

     

    Has He done that for you? 
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    What is keeping you from knowing the reality of the love of God in your life?
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  • December 15, 2020

     

    By JT Overby

     

    Read John 4


    The wedding in Cana in John 2 and the healing of the official's son in Cana in John 4 form a sort of bracket of the stories in between, and they work to inform each other. We see signs that Jesus is God-in-flesh, the Son sent from the Father to bring about salvation for His people. Jesus turns water into wine in abundance, signifying that new life is coming, celebration is coming, and restoration for God's people is coming, just as the prophets said. We see that by the power of His word, Jesus brings a boy back from the near death. This is but a sign of the true power that Jesus has, which He will put on greater display later in John. That brings us to what is in between the brackets.


    Yesterday, we looked at the salvation that comes from being born again. Though we are dead, spiritually, Jesus brings us back to life. In John 4, we see a woman who has had 5 husbands, and who is currently with a man that is not a husband. Is she sexually promiscuous? Most likely. But when men had the power to divorce in that culture, she was also a woman who had been hurt, objectified, and who is broken and needy. She meets Jesus at the well.


    Isaac, Jacob, and Moses all met a woman at the well. This woman is being invited to become a part of the true Bride (the Church) by believing in the true Bridegroom (Jesus), whom John the Baptist spoke of at the end of John 3.


    The wedding in Cana is a shadow of the great wedding to come! Because of who Jesus is and all He accomplishes for us in His life, death, resurrection, and ascension we can be washed, purified, and made holy before the Bridegroom (Ephesians 5:25-27). We can enjoy life with Him because of what He has done for the Bride.

     

    Will we trust Him for that life? 
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  • December 16, 2020

    by JT Overby

     

    Read John 5

     

    Once the invalid finds out it was Jesus who was the mysterious man who healed him, he went and told the Jews, since the Jews were angry with him for carrying his bed on the Sabbath. We would rather be right with man than healed and whole and right with God. This is the essence of our sin. We seek glory apart from God.


    We seek glory from fellow man. We want our righteousness to be seen and celebrated by our fellow church members. We want the world to see our success. We want respect. We want admiration. We want acceptance. We want people to know how right we are. We want people to look up to us. We even want God to appreciate us for what we do and who we are! We seek Him in the Scriptures, do all we can to obey Him, but love Him little.


    If you want to follow Jesus, you must take up your cross. You must die to seeking your own glory. You must humble yourself. You must come to Him weak, needy, broken, hopeless, and lost knowing that salvation is in Him alone. You must stop seeking salvation, happiness, joy, and life from the things of the world and people of the world. You must seek life in God's glory and die to self-centered attempts at your own glory. Death is the way to life.


    We know this to be true because Jesus came to do the work of the Father, according to John's gospel. His work is completed on the cross. Jesus came to die so that all who deny themselves and look to Him, may find abundant life. You can't seek abundant life in Jesus and the world.


    What hope do we spiritually dead people have? 
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    We have hope in the One who has the power to call out to dead people. Will we live in that call or seek life in places that only lead to death? 
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  • December 17, 2020

     

    by JT Overby

     

    Read John 6

     

    Our fleshly efforts are no help at all in coming to the Lord (John 6:63). John 6 is best interpreted in light of the exodus of Israel from Egypt. The exodus from Egypt is a shadow of the greater exodus that Jesus accomplishes for us in bringing us out of slavery to sin. Our fleshly efforts to save ourselves from sin are no help. We cannot save ourselves and that is actually good news! How is that good news?


    We see in John that the God of the Bible is a God who delights to save. The theme of the Son coming to do the work of the Father is big for John. What is the work that Jesus came to do? Save His people through His life, death on the cross, and resurrection. That is what accomplishes the greater exodus as Jesus becomes the true Passover Lamb. The Father delights to save His people through the work of the Son.


    How do we come to enjoy that salvation? Scripture, in both Old and New Testaments, testifies that the salvation of God is brought to us by the Spirit (John 6:63). The Spirit brings new life! Just as the Father delights to send the Son to save, the Father and Son delight to send the Spirit to bring us into that salvation. What does that salvation look like?


    It looks like us partaking of Jesus. He is the true bread from Heaven. When we partake of Him, we who are needy and hungry, find ourselves filled and made whole. We find life in partaking and filling ourselves on Jesus. Salvation is found in no other man—only Jesus.

     

    Will you partake of Him today? 
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    Will you feast on Jesus in the Scriptures, finding all life and joys in Him? He delights for you to do just that! 
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    What good news!

     


  • December 18, 2020

     

    by JT Overby

     

    Read John 7

     

    The fervor around Jesus, His ministry, His teachings, and His works is exploding. We have crowds flocking to Him. We have others looking to put Him to death. We have His own brothers not believing in Him. The people who seem to believe in Him are often confused about who He actually is, so who knows what they actually believe.


    Jesus steps into all this darkness, all this chaos. He continues to do the work of his Father—bringing salvation to His people. Who is this salvation for in the midst of all this craziness? Look at the people He calls out to, inviting them to come to Him in 7:37. All who are thirsty, Jesus says, come to Me.


    Do we hunger and thirst for righteousness? Do we hunger and thirst and yearn for more of the Lord? A.W. Tozer would say that complacency is the great enemy of growth in the faith. Are we complacent? Are we content? Are we satisfied with what we have in this life? Do our hearts burn with a desire for more of God and for others to experience and encounter the love of God in Jesus Christ? I confess that I am so often complacent. I fill up on the world or my own self-sufficiency and rarely come in humble dependence and reliance upon God.


    Jesus came to the hungry, the thirsty, the weary, the broken, the needy, the lost. Are we coming to Jesus as these types of people? Do we come to Jesus desperate for more of Him or are we content with very little of Jesus? Perhaps a sign that we have tasted and seen God’s goodness is that we are consumed with a desire for more of it.


    What do you desire? 
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    Are you missing Jesus and His invitation because of your lack of desire? 
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  • December 21, 2020

     

    by Jonathan Norton

     

    Read John 8

     

    In Verses 28 and 29 Jesus says “I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me… For I always do the things that are pleasing to Him”. When we read these verses we must realize that only the perfect and unblemished Son of God could make such statements. If we are honest, we all want to say “I try to speak as the Father has taught me” or “I want to do what pleases Him”. But the truth is that sometimes our hearts align with the heart of Jesus, but many times we fall short of doing what pleases Him. This is because we are not Jesus, and we cannot accomplish anything that pleases Him when we live under our own authority or stray from what Jesus teaches us in His Word. However, we can be greatly encouraged when we fully grasp that the God we serve always has the strength to do the things that pleases the Father. There was never a day when He walked on this earth that He disappointed the Father. That is who our Savior is and how powerful he is!      

     

    In verses 31 and 32 Jesus said “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth and the truth will set you free”. So when we read these scriptures and combine them with verses 28 and 29, we understand that if we truly want to follow Jesus, be His disciple, speak what He has taught us and please Him, then we must abide in His Word daily. The word “abide” means to conform, or to accept without objection. If we want to know the truth and be set free from the darkness of sin and the world, then we must read the truth, accept the truth and live by the truth.

     

    Do you abide in His Word? 
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    Are truly His disciple aiming to please Him daily? 
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  • December 22, 2020

     

    by Jonathan Norton

     

    Read John 9

     

    Have you ever imagined what life would be like if you were blind? A blind person can experience other senses and feelings such as the warmth of the sunlight, the smell of a garden, the sounds of the ocean, or the touch of a loved one. It is easy to think that these experiences would be diminished without the ability to see; however, those who are born without sight do not know what they are missing. Their perspective is limited and if it were not for the testimony of others with sight, people born blind would never suspect they are missing anything.

     

    This is a great metaphor that paints a picture of those living in the darkness of sin like you, me and every person born on earth. We are all born spiritually blind, because we are born into a world of sin and evil due to the legacy handed down through the generations of humanity. Because of this sinful world system, we become part of a world full of people born spiritually blind. Therefore, we would never know what we were missing if it were not for the incredible event in which the Light of God entered the world in the flesh of humanity for the purpose of giving us sight. Praise God, for He has given us light, opened our eyes and healed our spiritual blindness!

     

    It is important to remember when reading this chapter that God doesn’t send Jesus to heal every physically disabled person. That is because we wouldn’t know what God really looks like if we didn’t have the disabled. We wouldn’t understand His compassion and His character if it weren’t for them. If every person’s body was flawless, it would create in us an ignorance and coldness in our theology. God continues to send these precious people through the ranks of His family for all of us to see a part of His face that we would otherwise miss. They don’t need a miracle, they are a miracle!                           

     


  • December 23, 2020

     

    by Jonathan Norton

     

    Read John 10


    When you were a kid did you ever play the game with your friends where you ask each other if you were an animal, what kind would you be? Most children have done this, and I think it is safe to say that no child probably ever says they would be a sheep. But when we read John 10, we understand that if Jesus is indeed our Good Shepherd, then we are His sheep. Being one of God’s sheep is not something we earn or deserve, but a gift we accept.  The challenge is, some people think they belong to Jesus, but they do not really follow Him like His true sheep do.  So today let’s look at four characteristics Jesus gives in verses 27-30 to determine if you are one of His sheep.    

     

    First, God’s Sheep Listen to His Voice (v. 27). This is when your life is guided by reading and listening to God’s Word and staying sensitive to the Holy Spirit. As His sheep, we can always say “God says this in His Word” or “The Holy Spirit gripped my heart with this”. God’s sheep are always listening out for the voice of the Good   Shepherd.

     

    Second, God’s Sheep are Obedient (v. 27). It is simple, as sheep we trust and obey our Shepherd regardless of our circumstances. Sheep follow the commands of the Good Shepherd. Does this describe your walk with Christ?

     

    Third, God’s Sheep are Secure (v. 28). From the moment you receive Christ as your Shepherd, you are in His hands forever. Your eternity in Heaven is secure.

     

    Fourth, God’s Sheep are Confident (v. 29). When you are an obedient sheep that listens to the voice of Jesus and you understand that your eternity is secure, then you have confidence that His power protects you from ever getting “snatched from His hand”. All His love, grace, mercy, and power give us confidence that we are on the path to eternal life with our Heavenly Father.

     

    Amen!                

     


  • December 24, 2020

     

    by Jonathan Norton

     

    Read John 11

     

    When we read verses 45 – 57 in the book of John, Chapter 11, we understand that just by Lazarus living, it became a reason the Gospel was being spread and people believed in Jesus. But we also see that because of this miracle of raising Lazarus from the dead, others plotted to kill Jesus. Two points come to mind when I read this passage        preparing for Christmas Eve and the celebration of the life of Jesus.

     

    First, you do not have to be physically raised from the dead to have an impact for  Jesus. Every believer can be a picture of God to those around them in how we live our lives and respond to others. You would probably be incredibly amazed to know what kind of impact you have on other people. You should be encouraged to know that God can and does use all of us in special ways to spread His Gospel. If you ever wrestle with the feeling that God is not using you, then remember that you will not know the impact your life until you get to eternity. Remember that all of God’s children are  significant to His Kingdom and that you can be a glimpse of God to others around you, even if you do not realize it while here on earth.

     

    Second, the power of the Gospel always demands a response. You either receive it or reject it. Pastor Chan Kilgore says “True Gospel preaching always changes the heart. It either awakens it or hardens it”. Some witnessed the raising of Lazarus, saw the power of Jesus and believed (v. 45). Others witnessed the same thing and rejected Jesus. Our job as believers is to share the Gospel, to tell others what Jesus has done in our own lives. We should be like Lazarus and show others Jesus through our walk and talk. Show and tell our miracle of salvation. The response of others to the Gospel is not our responsibility. We cannot change the hearts of others, only the Holy Spirit can do that.         

     


  • December 25, 2020

     

    by Jonathan Norton

     

    Read John 12

     

    Merry Christmas! As we celebrate the birth of Jesus in our scripture reading for today, it is interesting that John clearly wants us to give our attention to the last week of Jesus’ life on earth. As we read Chapter 12, the Gospel of John begins to cover in  detail a small fragment of time in history. The first 11 chapters cover a three-year period, whereas Chapters 12-19 cover only one week.

     

    Let’s look at verses 20-36. In verse 21 we read that some Greeks wanted to meet Jesus. Remember when Jesus was born, Greeks were seeking Him and they came from the east. Now the week He will go to the cross we see more Greeks seeking Him, and this time they come from the west. Wouldn’t there be a great spiritual  revival if all people from the east to west and north to south were seeking Jesus today? How can we help make this happen? The answer is if we, as believers, would be more like Andrew. In verse 22 we see Philip tell Andrew these Greeks want to meet Jesus, so Andrew and Philip go see Jesus. What is interesting is that we see  Andrew appear in the gospel of John now only three times. None of the three times seems significant really, but in all three circumstances Andrew is directly involved in bringing people to Jesus. The first time is in John 1:40-42 where he brings his brother Simon Peter to Jesus. Then, in John 6:8-9 we see Andrew find and bring the little boys to Jesus so He can feed the five thousand.

     

    What is important to notice is that Andrew never serves as key leader, but he is  faithful in bringing people to Christ. Like Jesus says in verse 35, Andrew “walked in the light so the darkness did not overtake him”. Andrew “trusted in the light and  became a child of the light” (v.36). Therefore, Andrew always shined the light of   Jesus in a dark world…Are you like Andrew shining the light of Jesus this Christmas season?   

     

     


  • December 28, 2020

     

    by Kevin Calhoun

     

    Read John 13

     

    “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love one for another,” (13:34-35).

     

    The story is told of a man marooned on a desert island. One day a ship saw his campfire and came to rescue him. When they told him to get everyone else and get on board the man said there was no one else, he was all alone. They asked why they saw three huts on the island. The man said the first hut was his home, the second hut was his church, and the third hut was his former church but he got upset and moved his membership.

     

    We laugh, but that may be a commentary for many of us. Thus, I am constantly  reminded of Jesus’ command to love one another. It sounds so simple but can be so hard. The key is to love others as Jesus loved/loves us.

     

    We can show our love by how we think about one another. Loving actions must begin with loving attitudes.

     

    We can show our love by how we speak about (and to) one another.  Words are very powerful.  They can heal or hurt, lift up or tear down.  Let us seek to speak words that encourage.

     

    We can show our love by how we act toward one another.  We must not only love in word, but in deed also.  

     

    Application:

    List anyone with whom you are upset at the moment.  
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    Pray for them and list how you might seek to be reconciled with them.  
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    Prayer:

    Lord, fill me with Your love that I might love others.  Amen!

     

     


  • December 29, 2020

     

    by Kevin Calhoun

     

    Read John 14

     

    “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go to the Father. And whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it,” (John 14:12-14).

     

    Notice the importance of faith in our walk with Jesus. Jesus said, “He who believes in Me.” We come to God by grace through faith in Jesus, and we walk each day by grace through faith in Jesus. We believe Jesus is God’s Son and He is our only means of salvation.

     

    Jesus continues, “He who believes in Me, the works that I do shall he do also.” The promise of prayer is connected to the doing of His works.  However, we must understand our works are based upon His strength, not our own ability.

     

    When Jesus said, “whatever you ask in My name, that will I do,” He meant more than closing our prayers with the words, “In Jesus’ name.” To pray in Jesus’ name involves our desire to live in union with Him.

     

    The desired result is found in His statement, “that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” The ultimate aim of everything we do is to glorify our Father in Heaven. 

    Application:

    How would you describe your faith in Jesus? 
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    What is your intended desire when you turn to God in prayer? 
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    Prayer:

    “Search me, O God, and know my heart;

                Try me and know my anxious thoughts;

    And see if there be any hurtful way in me,

                And lead me in the everlasting way,” (Psalm 139:23-24).

     

    Amen!

     


  • December 30, 2020

     

    by Kevin Calhoun

     

    Read John 15

     

    As the end of 2020 draws near, I have heard a lot of people say they are ready for the year to be over.  With all of the concerns over Covid-19, the unrest related to race relations, and the animosity experienced during an election year; it is no wonder so many of us are ready for 2021.  We have all had our times of fatigue.  The question we must ask, however, is “how can we approach the new year with confidence, assurance, and faith?”  I believe the answer is found in John 15.

     

    Notice with me the importance of “abiding in Christ.”  Abiding in Christ is repeated over and over in the first 16 verses of our chapter.  When we abide with someone, we linger with them simply for the pleasure of enjoying their company and learning from them.  We stay connected with them in an ongoing relationship.  But how do we “abide in Christ?”

     

    We begin by abiding in His word.  Our desire as a staff this past year (and in 2019) was to spend a year together with you in daily reading of God’s Word. My prayer is that our time together in the Gospels has been beneficial to each of you.

     

    We also believe it is important to abide in God’s love.  The closer we walk with Christ in obedience, the more our intimacy with Him grows.

     

    As 2020 comes to a close and 2021 begins, let us all renew our commitment to abide in Christ daily.

     

    Application:

    How does reading God’s Word strengthen you each day?  
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    What steps can you take next year to abide more closely with Him? 
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    Prayer:

    Lord Jesus, draw me close to You and keep me in Your presence each day. Amen!

     

     


  • December 31, 2020

     

    by Kevin Calhoun

     

    Read John 16

     

    John 16 contains a number of words of instruction, warning, and encouragement for us today.  As we look at this chapter, notice verse 20 with me. “Truly, truly, I say to you, that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned to joy.”  There are several truths for us in this passage.

     

    As Christ prepares His disciples (and all true believers) for His death, resurrection, and ascension to Heaven; He wants them to expect a time of sorrow. The absence of Christ will bring great sorrow for the disciples.  They will have feelings of doubt and fear when He is put to death on the cross.

     

    The world, however, will rejoice at His death.  With the death of Jesus, the world will have a false assurance that they are free to live as they desire.  Jesus will no longer be present to point out their separation from God.  The sorrow of the disciples will bring rejoicing for the unbelieving world.

     

    However, for those who trust in Jesus, the promise of the Holy Spirit and the future return of Jesus will bring eternal joy to all believers.  Jesus tells them, “I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice, and no one takes your joy away from you,” (vs. 22).  In the same way the disciples were filled with joy when they saw the risen Christ, we too can rejoice in the promise of His return. 

     

    Application:

    Make a list of circumstances or events that bring discouragement to you. 
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    Beside each circumstance, list how the presence of Jesus encourages you. 
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    Prayer:

    Lord Jesus, thank You for Your continued presence in my life.  Fill me with Your strength today.  Amen!